Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex

Prince Augustus Frederick
Duke of Sussex
Prince Augustus Frederick at the age of 25
Portrait by Guy Head, 1798
Born27 January 1773
Buckingham House, London
Died21 April 1843(1843-04-21) (aged 70)
Kensington Palace, London
Burial4 May 1843
Lady Augusta Murray
(m. 1793; annulled 1794)

Lady Cecilia Underwood
(m. 1831)
IssueSir Augustus d'Este
Augusta Emma Wilde, Baroness Truro
FatherGeorge III of the United Kingdom
MotherCharlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
25th President of the Royal Society
In office
Preceded byDavies Gilbert
Succeeded bySpencer Compton

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, KG, KT, GCB, GCH, PRS, FRSA (27 January 1773 – 21 April 1843) was the sixth son and ninth child of King George III and his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was the only surviving son of George III who did not pursue an army or navy career. He was known for his liberal views, which included reform of Parliament, abolition of the slave trade, Catholic Emancipation, and the removal of existing civil restrictions on Jews and Dissenters.[1]


Early life

Augustus Frederick was born on 27 January 1773 at Buckingham House, London. He was the 9th child and 6th son of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Nine-year-old Prince Augustus in 1782, painted by Thomas Gainsborough

Augustus Frederick was baptised in the Great Council Chamber at St James's Palace, on 25 February 1773, by Archbishop of Canterbury Frederick Cornwallis. His godparents were the Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (his paternal first cousin once-removed, for whom The Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Duke George Augustus of Mecklenburg (his maternal uncle, for whom the Earl of Bristol, Groom of the Stool, stood proxy) and Princess Charles of Hesse-Cassel (his first cousin once-removed, for whom The Viscountess Weymouth, Lady of the Bedchamber to the queen, stood proxy).[2]

Augustus Frederick was tutored at home before being sent to the University of Göttingen in Germany in the summer of 1786, along with his brothers Prince Ernest and Prince Adolphus.[3] Prince Augustus, who suffered from asthma, did not join his brothers in receiving military training in Hanover. He briefly considered becoming a cleric in the Church of England. In 1805, during the Napoleonic War, he served at home in Britain as Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the "Loyal North Britons" Volunteers regiment.[4]

First marriage

While travelling in Italy, the prince met Lady Augusta Murray (1768–1830), the second daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunmore. The couple secretly married in Rome on 4 April 1793. The King's minister of Hanover affairs Ernst zu Münster was sent to Italy to escort him back to London.[5]

The couple married again without revealing their full identities at St George's, Hanover Square, Westminster, on 5 December 1793. Both marriages took place without the consent, or even the knowledge, of his father.

In August 1794, the Court of Arches annulled the prince's first marriage on the grounds that it contravened the Royal Marriages Act 1772, not having been approved by the King. However, Prince Augustus Frederick continued to live with Lady Augusta until 1801, when he received a parliamentary grant of £12,000 and the couple separated. Lady Augusta retained custody of their children and received maintenance of £4,000 a year. Their two children were named Augustus Frederick d'Este and Augusta Emma d'Este, both parents being descended from the royal House of Este. In 1806, their mother, Lady Augusta, was given royal licence to use the surname "de Ameland" instead of Murray.[6]

Duke of Sussex and Knight of the Garter

Augustus Frederick was invested as a Knight of the Garter on 2 June 1786, and installed by dispensation on 28 May 1801.[7] The King created him Duke of Sussex, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Arklow in the Peerage of the United Kingdom on 24 November 1801.[8] Since he had no legitimate issue, the title became extinct on his death in 1843. In 1815 the Duke became a patron of the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum, later to become the charity known today as Norwood. Royal patronage continued, with Queen Elizabeth II eventually becoming Norwood's patron.


A known mistress was Mrs. Bugge. Sir William Dillon recorded in his diary they were both present with him at a party held by Emma Hamilton (Lord Nelson's mistress) where she rented tableware for the meal but neglected to rent a carving knife, creating great difficulty in serving the Christmas dinner to her guests.[9]

United Grand Lodge of England

In January 1813, Augustus Frederick became Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, and in December of that year his brother, Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, became Grand Master of the Antient Grand Lodge of England. On 27 December 1813 the United Grand Lodge of England was constituted at Freemasons' Hall, London with Prince Augustus Frederick as Grand Master. In 1842, he founded the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution.

George Oliver's Signs and Symbols Illustrated and Explained in a Course of Twelve Lectures on Freemasonry (1837) was dedicated to Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex.[10]

Second marriage

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex wearing the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Thistle

A year after the death of Lady Augusta D'Ameland (Lady Augusta Murray), the Duke of Sussex married a second time on 2 May 1831 (again in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act) to Lady Cecilia Letitia Buggin (1793–1873), the eldest daughter of Arthur Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran, and Elizabeth Underwood, and the widow of Sir George Buggin. On the same day, Lady Cecilia assumed the surname Underwood by Royal Licence. She was never titled or recognized as the Duchess of Sussex. However, she was created Duchess of Inverness in her own right by Queen Victoria in 1840.[11]

Later life

Portrait of the Duke of Sussex in his old age, by Thomas Phillips, c. 1838

William IV appointed his younger brother Chief Ranger and Keeper of St James's Park and Hyde Park on 29 January 1831, and Queen Victoria appointed her uncle Governor of Windsor Castle in 1842.[12] The Duke of Sussex was elected president of the Society of Arts in 1816 and held that post for the rest of his life. He also held the honorary posts of Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company from 1817, and of Captain-General (at which point the posts were united) from 1837 onward.[12] He was president of the Royal Society between 1830 and 1838, and had a keen interest in biblical studies and Hebrew.[13] His personal library contained over 50,000 theological manuscripts, some in Hebrew.[14] In 1838, he introduced in a meeting scientist John Herschel, and the Duke gave a speech in which he spoke about the compatibility of science and religion:

The tomb of Prince Augustus Frederick, Kensal Green Cemetery

In making these remarks I am not presumptuous; but allow me to say, that attached as I am to science – attached as I am to religion, I am satisfied that the real philosopher is the most religious man; and it is in looking to the operations in nature that the finger of the Almighty leads us to the lesson. (16 June 1838)


The Duke of Sussex was the favourite uncle of Queen Victoria. He gave her away at her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1840.[16] The Duke of Sussex died, aged 70 of erysipelas, at Kensington Palace[12] in 1843. In his will he specified that he was not to have a state funeral and was accordingly buried at Kensal Green Cemetery on 4 May 1843.[17] He is buried in front of the main chapel, immediately opposite the tomb of his sister, Princess Sophia.

The Duchess of Inverness continued to reside at Kensington Palace until her death in 1873. She was buried next to Prince Augustus.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Coat of arms of Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex, used from 1801 until his death

Titles and styles

  • 27 January 1773 – 27 November 1801: His Royal Highness Prince Augustus Frederick[8]
  • 24 November 1801 – 21 April 1843: His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex[8]

The duke held the subsidiary titles of Earl of Inverness and Baron Arklow.



As a son of the sovereign, the Duke of Sussex had use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing two hearts gules, the outer points each bearing a cross gules.[20]


By Lady Augusta Murray (married 4 April 1793; annulled)
Augustus Frederick d'Este17941848
Augusta Emma d'Este18011866married Thomas Wilde, 1st Baron Truro; no issue.
By Lady Cecilia Underwood (married 2 May 1831)
no issue



  1. ^ "Augustus Frederick Duke of Sussex (1773–1843)".
  2. ^ "Yvonne's royalty home page: Royal christenings". Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  3. ^ Unknown (1838). Masonic offering to ... prince Augustus Frederick, duke of Sussex: Volume 5 (Digitized ed.). Oxford University.
  4. ^ a b c d e f White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1953). The Complete Peerage. Vol. XII, Part 1. St Catherine Press. p. 535.
  5. ^ Henderson, T.F. (2004). "Augustus Frederick, Prince, duke of Sussex (1773–1843)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. rev. John Van der Kiste. Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ "No. 15966". The London Gazette. 18 October 1806. p. 1364.
  7. ^ Beltz, George Frederick (1841). Memorials of the Order of the Garter. William Pickering. p. ccviii – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ a b c "The London Gazette, Issue 15429, Page 1403". 24 November 1801.
  9. ^ Peakman, Julie (2005). Emma Hamilton (Life & Times). Haus Publishers Ltd. p. 156. ISBN 978-1904341987.
  10. ^ Oliver, George (1837). Signs and Symbols Illustrated and Explained in a Course of Twelve Lectures on Freemasonry. New York Public Library: Sherwood, Golbert and Piper, hor, by Bro . Skelton.
  11. ^ "No. 19842". The London Gazette. 31 March 1840. p. 858.
  12. ^ a b c The Complete Peerage. Vol. XII, Part II. p. 536.
  13. ^ Tahan, Ilana (2007). Hebrew Manuscripts: The Power of Script and Image. The British Library. p. 37.
  14. ^ "Bookplate of Augustus Frederick, Prince, Duke of Sussex". Rare Books of the Shimeon Brisman Collection in Jewish Studies. Washington University. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  15. ^ "The Herschel Dinner". The Athenæum Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts (532). 6 January 2020.
  16. ^ Walford, Edward. "St James's Palace Pages 100-122 Old and New London: Volume 4. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878". British History Online.
  17. ^ Liza Picard (2006). Victorian London. Orion. pp. 362–364. ISBN 0-7538-2090-0.
  18. ^ "Revived and Recently Created Orders". Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  19. ^ "A Victorian volunteer force". Honourable Artillery Company.
  20. ^ Velde, Francois R. "Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family". Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  21. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the currently living Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 5.

External links

  • Sussex Correspondence. James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Media files used on this page

Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Hanover.svg
Author/Creator: Sodacan, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Royal Shield of Arms of the Kingdom of Hanover
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1801-1816).svg
Author/Creator: Sodacan, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1816 used by King George III

Quarterly, First and Fourth Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), Second quarter Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), Third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland), over all an inescutcheon, ensigned by the Electoral Cap or bonnet, Tierced per pale and per chevron, First Gules two lions passant guardant Or (for Brunswick), Second Or semée of hearts Gules a lion rampant Azure (For Luneburg), Third Gules a horse courant Argent (For Hanover), an inescutcheon over all three, Gules the Crown of Charlemagne Proper (As Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire), the whole surrounded by the Garter; for a Crest, upon the Royal helm the imperial crown Proper, thereon a lion statant guardant Or imperially crowned Proper; Mantling Or and ermine; for Supporters, dexter a lion rampant guardant Or crowned as the Crest, sinister a unicorn Argent armed, crined and unguled Proper, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lys a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or; Motto 'Dieu et mon Droit' in the compartment below the shield, with the Union rose, shamrock and thistle engrafted on the same stem.
  • PINCHES, J.H & R.V., The Royal Heraldry of England, 1974, Heraldry Today.
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex by Thomas Phillips.jpg
Portrait of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843)
The tomb of Prince Augustus Frederick, Kensal Green Cemetery.JPG
Author/Creator: Stephencdickson, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
The tomb of Prince Augustus Frederick, Kensal Green Cemetery
Coat of Arms of Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex.svg
Author/Creator: This W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Inkscape., Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Coat of Arms of Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex used from 1801 to 1843.
Prince Augustus in 1782.jpg

Thomas Gainsborough

, Licence: PD

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex at nine years old, painted by Thomas Gainsborough.

Knight of the Order of the Thistle.jpg
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex wearing the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Thistle